‘Academic Milieu shouldn’t be exclusively for learning, recreation is important too’
For Professor Muhammed Mustapha Akanbi, Vice-Chancellor, Kwara State University, (KWASU) Malete, Moro Local Council of Kwara State, the aphorism, “Found Worthy in Learning and Character”, would continue to be the benchmark for awarding degrees to deserving students of the institution.
Akanbi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) among others told The Guardian in Ilorin, the state capital that he would prefer to unleash on the public, criminally-minded non-graduates who would have suffered varying degrees of punishments from the school for breaching its statute than releasing into public morally bankrupt graduates.
The Vice-Chancellor, the son of the late former President of Court of Appeal, Justice Mustapha Akanbi, among others, said he would continue to encourage students and staff of the 10 years old school who have penchant for inventions and entrepreneurship skills. These, he said, are the two-prong developments for socio, economic growth of any serious-minded nation.
How far has the journey been as the second Vice-Chancellor of KWASU succeeding Professor AbdulRasheed Na’Allah?
I was appointed by the Kwara State government on April 1, 2020, at the peak of the COVID-19 Pandemic. I will be honest by saying that the position has been very challenging but most of the time also, it has been fulfilling.
What is the relationship like between the Town and the Gown, especially in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
At KWASU, three great components rule our lives and guide our daily activities. These are Teaching, Research and the need for Community Development. We already have the Community Relations Committee that meets from time to time. It has helped us to douse perceived tension between the students and this community, ‘Malete.’ It is a known fact that KWASU population of about 21, 000 is twice the population of the community. We have therefore adopted Malete Secondary School, where we offer free teaching, guidance and counselling and infrastructural development. We have equally extended this kind gesture to some other community schools like Shao, Elemere among others that are sited within our host, ‘Moro’ Local Council. Besides, we constantly offer security supports to the security agencies in and outside Malete for effective intelligence gathering mechanism and crime prevention. Our students would no doubt be at risk in the event of any breach in security situations. We donated transformers where necessary and sink motorised boreholes to cater for the need for hygienic water supply to members of the community.
Considering the rather long distance of about 20 kilometres from the university to the state capital, Ilorin, how effective is the transportation scheme of the institution?
Our focus mainly is intra campus transportation system. Due to the global threats to security, we want to henceforth ensure that not all manners of public transports ply our campus. There is a need for us to regulate the activities of the transporters. From recent disclosures, many of the unregulated transporters are used as veritable sources of transporting illicit drugs and other banned substances. Therefore, it is the right time for us to have our own shuttle team. This development will also empower us to regulate their speed on the road, prevent overloading and ensure strict compliance with the roadworthiness of these vehicles conveying to our staff and students. We want our students to learn certain etiquette of the transportation system.
During your recent briefing with the press on the activities of the school, ahead of its combined 8th and 9th Convocation ceremonies, you said a total number of 87 students were expelled from the school. What accounted for this seemingly high figure?
KWASU has zero-tolerance for indiscipline and misconduct. All cases of indiscipline are investigated and appropriate punitive measures are taken against students found guilty of such offence. This is to ensure that the few bad eggs among the students do not contaminate the decent ones. Between the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 academic sessions, a total of 87 students were expelled from the University. The students were involved in examination malpractice, drug-related offences, Internet fraud, robbery, among other anti-social behaviours. Their expulsion followed the investigation and the establishment of their guilt by the Students Disciplinary Committee. I will not waive the laws for anyone. The University is not a reformation centre. It is supposed to be an environment for mature minded people. If we allow these deviants to graduate, you will begin to see them tomorrow in public offices as leaders. By implication, the future of our great state and nation will be bleak.
We have a Statute Book at KWASU where sanctions are slammed against all these social vices. Most of these students are above 18 years of age who are also being arrested and prosecuted according to the laws of the land when necessary. Here, those to be warned are warned and those to be expelled will be shown the way out. Staff whose conducts are in conflict with our etiquette will be sanctioned accordingly. Any staff caught in sexual harassment scam should not even wait for our sledgehammer before resigning from the system. Then the other aspects will be handled by the state’s prosecuting agents. We have zero tolerance for all these because, in one way or the other, they taint the integrity of the certificates we issue out as an institution. Why should we condone a situation where young boys and girls are holding nocturnal meetings in the night asking their fellow students to begin to now down for them? This is an unregistered club. If you want a genuine association, come out with your well-defined aims and objectives and be registered. We have also encouraged our students to speak out. They are all expected to be good ambassadors of this institution. Besides, we need to also restore parental values in our country. The ways our parents brought us up are the ways we are in public. From our findings, most of the students in this show of shame are transferred students from other universities. We have therefore decided as an institution to suspend the transfer of students for the next five years.
How far has the University gone concerning the designed aircraft by two of its students?
The light aircraft designed by the two students will at the first quarter of this year (2022) embark on a test flight. Already, the development is receiving the attention of the Management of the state-owned Collage of Aviation, Ilorin for possible assistance.
As you are aware, the one-sitter turbo propeller engine aircraft was set to attain an altitude of 13,000 ft at 220 km/h speed. But these disclosures would only materialise if necessary funds would be made available. Our University is setting the pace in aircraft engineering in Nigeria. Two students, Abdulzahir Okinobanyi Usman and Israel Oluwagbemi Adeniyan under the supervision of Professor AbdulGaniyu Alabi designed and constructed a light aircraft. The light aircraft which is the first of its kind in the University will soon be ready for a test flight. Post-impact fire is a major cause of death in the event of an air crash. I am glad to inform you that a staff of the Faculty of Engineering and Technology of the institution, Engr Abdulbaqi Jinadu and his supervisees, Ayodeji Akangbe Tunde and Haleem Olamide Olatinwo are already at the zenith of their research on the way to contaminate aviation fuel to prevent fire outbreak in the event of an air crash. Besides, in-depth research revealed a mixing ratio that successfully increased the flash and fire points of aviation fuel to reduce its ability to burn and thereby facilitate the rescue of passengers. Let me also bring to your knowledge that Jinadu and another set of his supervisees, Kayode Samuel Olagunju, Abdulhafeez Owoyemi Salisu and Oluwaseun Aderugbemi Adeniyi had remodelled the mid-section of the Boeing 737 fuselage that houses the main fuel tank in a way that reduces any explosion in the event of a crash. We are also using this medium to solicit financial assistance for all these projects. They are no doubt going to be capital intensive.
How do you manage the about 21,000 students population vis a vis the limited space for accommodation on the campus?
When I came on board, a little above 1,000 of the student’s population resided on campus. It was a major concern to us because if anything had happened to them, we would not have had access to them, I mean the vast majority living outside the campus. Therefore the concept of Students Smart City came to us. Already, some private concerns had been contacted for the take-off of this under a robust Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) arrangement. It will be a functional city with good telecommunication and electricity networks, an effective security system, recreational arrangements and so on. We have found out that 5,000 of our student’s population go to Ilorin, the state capital on daily basis, seeking recreational centres. A university should be a one-stop shop. As an undergraduate at the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife, such recreational facilities were at Oduduwa Hall, Zoo, Museum and so on. During festive seasons, the school would not be deserted. The academic environment should not be exclusively designed for learning. There must be room for recreation as well.
At KWASU, the University shuts down at 5:00 pm for security reasons. If we all live on campus, we will not need to close at that time of the day. The hostel arrangement will inculcate in the students, much effective academic culture. We can’t do it alone remember we are just 10 years old. Even the First Generation Universities in Nigeria had private supports before becoming what they are today. At KWASU, we have a brand name as a weapon, we have the enviable population and large expanse of lands to attract the interests of the private sector. However, we appeal to our governments at various levels to put up robust policies that will make private and public sectors partnership thrive. This arrangement will surely reduce the number of our youths taking to social crimes. There is a connection between social vices and infrastructural facilities like accommodation and transportation. The population should also be a factor for consideration. Most of the time, we don’t see our students on campus except for lecture purposes. This happens in many Nigerian public universities and not KWASU alone. These conditions are causing a significant rise in social vices among the youths. Today, due to absence of good campus accommodation for all, boys and girls between 19 and 20 years of age, co-habbit in rooms outside the campus. It is leading to a rise in Sexually Transmitted Diseases, promiscuity, cultism and so on.
What is the place of sports in your plans for the University?
We have put in place a conducive atmosphere to annex an abundance of talents and energies in our students via sporting activities. The collapse in sports engagements among the youths has fuelled the increase in anti-social behaviours and crime statistics among them. In the 80s students with sporting, potentials got some forms of waivers for Universities’ admissions. Somewhere along the lines, our youths lost the value of sports but now engage themselves in committing various cyber crimes with their computer devices. When we came on board, we brought up the idea of Vice-Chancellor Competitions among the existing faculties of the Ivory Tower. The experience was novel but we are lacking some sporting facilities especially, a befitting sports arena. On this, we are reaching out to some private concerns to partner with us.
Do you subscribe to the conduct of Post UME examination as a prerequisite for Universities’ Admission in Nigeria?
At KWASU, we merely add up candidates UME scores with their School Certificates Results to offer them admissions. We do not do Post UME here. But don’t forget that the idea came up when some academics from experience felt that the UME scores did not match the academic status of many candidates after their admissions. But of late, I think JAMB has improved. Maybe one day, the Post UME Examination will fade out.
How hot is your seat as KWASU Vice-Chancellor?
For years, I have heard of the phrase ‘hot seat’ but did not understand better until I sat on one. The seat is indeed very hot. Nevertheless, I give thanks to God for His guidance at all times. Some people see it as a political appointment that must come with its benefits. As we speak, I have on my table over 1,000 requests for job opportunities at KWASU. They see you as an employer of labour. Some see it as an opportunity to secure contracts offers. But these are not parts of the mandates of the Vice-Chancellor. Payment of salaries to me is not an achievement. We need a constant flow of funds to survive as a University. Besides, we want to appeal to Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) to formulate more proactive policies that will encourage more innovations in our postgraduate programme.